Into The Light: A Lesson on Confession
(in which I share a Sunday School lesson that actually might be enlightening for all of us)
I’ve been teaching Sunday School and/or VBS classes on and off for most of my adult life. I still have a lot to learn when it comes to finding the best ways to reach the students, but I have some opinions and some ideas about how it should work.
Currently I share superintendent duties of our program. I run the “opening” where we have all the students gathered together before they go off to their separate classes. I don’t know if it’s futile, but on some Sundays I’m trying to insert a little lesson about some of the basics of our liturgical worship service. Wouldn’t it be nice if the kids knew the basics include confession, readings, sermon, the creed, prayers, hymns, etc.. and also why? I’m not going to test them on it or anything, and I don’t know how much will sink in, but maybe at some time in their lives the dots will all connect and they will remember there’s a rhyme and a reason to the parts of our worship service.
For what it’s worth, here’s my attempt to explain the usefulness of confession. I did this with a group of 15-20 kids ages 5-10. And actually, this was a pretty powerful analogy for ME to consider, so even if you don’t teach Sunday School, read on!
Materials needed: a bag or purse of dark color, a small item (a small toy works well) that can be shoved into the corner of said bag
Teacher sits among students.
Have you ever done something wrong or thought that something you thought, might be weird or wrong… and so you didn’t tell anyone?
(hands go up probably)
Yeah, I’ve done that too.
Think about a time when that’s happened to you. What was it? Was it that you did something to your brother or sister you shouldn’t have? (hands will probably go up)
Did you sneak some candy when you weren’t supposed to? (hands)
Did you break something?
(allow time for kids to share; keep redirecting them to the idea that this is something that happened that they then tried to keep a secret)
What does it feel like inside when we don’t tell the bad things we do? How do we feel?
(allow for discussion about stomachaches, headaches, fear, and worry.)
Ok, now I have another question for you.
Have you ever been laying in bed
in the dark
and thought you saw something?!
(hands should shoot up)
Was it scary?!
Ok, what happened? What did you think you saw?
(allow for answers)
When things are in the dark, sometimes we can get really scared about them, can’t we?!
Well, I’m worried and scared about something.
See this bag I have here?
I love this bag. It’s so useful! It is a great bag.
But do you know what?
When I opened it yesterday, I saw something in the dark back corner and (alarmed) I don’t know what it is!!! (open the bag a little, peek in, and then close again dramatically) Ah! It looks scary!!
(peek in again) I can’t open it. I can’t get in there! Yuck! I’m scared!
I’m just going to leave it in the dark.
It’s easier that way. I just won’t use the bag anymore.
(probably/hopefully the kids will be arguing with you – “no open it! Let’s see!” They might want to crowd around and see what’s inside. Keep up the fear factor.)
No, no you, guys! I know I really love this bag, and it IS really useful!
But I’m not sure what’s in there and it’s probably better if I just keep it hidden in there!
Because what if it’s a spider!! I hate spiders!
What if it’s a…. Scorpion!?
What if it’s a… MOUSE?!
I AM PARALYZED WITH FEAR!!
What should I do?!
(by this time the kids should be very adamant that you should open the bag so they can see what’s inside)
You think I should look? Or just throw away the bag? Or just stay scared?!
Ok ok, you think we should look? Find out what’s hiding? What the secret is?
But it’s scary!
It’s kindof like when we have a secret about something we’ve done or said. We’d rather just leave it hidden! But I think when we keep things hidden, we end up with more problems, right?
**(you can decide if it’s best to reveal the “secret” now, or if you have them hanging on every word, you could wait till the end)
I guess you talked me into finding out what is in this bag.
Ok, I’m going to reach into the back… (dramatically squirmish and nervous).. What is this thing? Oh my goodness! It’s a ________!
Oh wow, it’s so much better to get this out in the light where we can see the truth! I feel so much better now! Plus I’m going to get to use my bag again!
Do you know what Jesus says about this kind of thing? He says, when we have bad things we have done or secrets we are afraid of, it is good to get them out into the open! He says the light can overcome the bad things! He tells us we should confess our sins – tell when something is bothering us and it’s making us feel yucky! Because he says when we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness!
When we keep our sin a secret it’s like keeping our sins in the dark. God says that’s not good. Partly because of how it makes us feel inside!
Do you know that during church, at the beginning of the service we say “We confess…” and then some Sundays it sounds a little different but most of the time it’s basically (you might want to have a copy of what your church normally says for confession to read to the kids here) we repeat what Jesus says – “We confess our sins and God who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness!”
Some people might think it sounds funny for our whole church to stand up and confess that we have done something wrong! But actually it’s really great, because then we realize we have ALL sinned against God. And that all each of us, and all our church friends, are in this together! We all need Jesus and He will forgive all of us for all our sins when we come to Him asking for forgiveness!
Ok, so let’s remember.. We have all sinned and made mistakes, but it’s best to tell the truth about what we’ve done – don’t leave it all in the dark, but bring it out into the open! – so we don’t feel so icky inside and so we can have the relief and joy of knowing we have been forgiven.
(Be careful emphasizing the “feeling.” We don’t all ‘feel’ guilty to begin with and we don’t all ‘feel’ relieved after confession is over! Those things can be useful for starting the conversation with the kiddos, but if we focus on the feelings, the whole thing falls apart because they aren’t consistent for everyone. The important thing is that the kids know God invites us to confess and promises us He will forgive that confession.)